Mike Subritzky

AFRICAN NIGHTS

Night time is a comfort
a respite from the dramatic events
and stresses of each day…
darkness is a friend.

At first we were spooked by
the distant and so unfamiliar howls,
or the roar of a pride of lions…
not to mention the ever present
baboon spiders and puff adders.

When we realised that darkness
held terror for the guerrillas
in a hundred different shadows
of ghosts and kehuas[1]
The night became ours.

Starlight scopes[2] were magic
and could reach in through the
mesh of mopami trees
and green of the veldt[3]
to throw up murky green television images.

Some nights the image of a drunken revolutionary,
AK slung across his shoulder
while clutching a bottle of cane spirit
or, the more common ‘camp comfort’ rape…
4of a girl from a nearby kraal[4] .

They only ever probed us once
about a week after we had arrived…
as their scouts approached they were greeted
with the sound of the double metallic click
of the cocking handle on the GPMG[5]
They never again probed us after sunset,
or at anytime before dawn. Never.

We owned the night!

Submitted for the December 2003 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Darkness